Writer Myopia: What If Your Project Doesn’t Sell?

THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERSIFICATION As a writer, you invest huge amounts of time, energy and money into your project (and you should)! But because you spend the bulk of your time writing (often a single project), it can be difficult to dedicate energy to other important areas – such as planning for long-term financial health and wealth management… At Voyage, we aim to look at the life of a creator holistically – it’s not ONLY about sparking the creative fire, honing your craft and developing the most marketable story… It’s also about helping you to create a balanced and fulfilled life – a life from which the best stories and ideas naturally take shape. To give you some context: as a writer, you’re starting with a 1% chance of having someone buy your movie or TV project. Now, this should never stop you from pursuing your dreams… But you want to make sure you’re thinking about other ways of saving and creating wealth, not just from your writing – in other words, you want to save, and diversify your investments of time and money. Here are 3 simple non-writing ways to diversify and have a strategy for a long-term sustainable career that perhaps you didn’t know about: 1. Acorns Sounds funny, but we don’t literally mean invest in the acorns you find on the ground. Acorns is a very high-tech system that allows you to quickly enroll in automatic deposits to a personal savings account where their system will invest it for you based on market trends and super cool algorithms – and you can even select how conservative...

Ever Wondered What It Feels Like to Sell a TV Pilot?

As creator of the TV series EXTANT, Mikey Fisher certainly knows a thing or two about it and he’s recently written about his experiences in this eye-opening  story below. He recounts every moment on his roller-coaster journey, from figuring out which screenwriting contests to enter, to how to choose an agent, to doing a conference call with Spielberg. This document is a veritable How-To on breaking into the TV business.  And for more tips and tools on the screenwriter’s trade, stay connected via Voyage Media. We make stories like Mikey’s happen every day for our clients. __________ ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS I’VE BEEN ASKED -MIKEY FISHER WHY I WROTE THIS: The day I turned forty years old I sold my first big script, a tv pilot for a new show called EXTANT. One of the Executive Producers was Steven Spielberg, it starred Oscar Winner Halle Berry, and got a straight to series order for thirteen episodes from CBS. I was made an Executive Producer as well and spent two years learning how to make television at the highest level. It was my first job in Hollywood. A lot of people are going to tell you that it NEVER happens that way. But it DID happen and to quote David Mamet from THE EDGE, “What one man (or woman) can do, another man (or woman) can do.” So I’m passing along what I learned from my personal experience. I know it’s not going to happen for everyone the same way and there will be plenty here that other people will disagree with. This is just one guy’s overall experience from writing the pilot to...

Call Us The Entertainment Myth Busters

3 Myths About Making It In The Entertainment Industry At times, the Industry can seem like a very mysterious & exclusive club that requires a secret password to gain access. Because of its somewhat elusive nature, stories of what people think the industry is actually like emerge and begin to be taken as fact. We hate to burst your bubble, but here we go… “Everyone is out to steal my story idea, so I can’t talk about it.” We hear this myth from authors and screenwriters all the time, but there’s very little evidence to back it up. In fact, a creator who is trying to break into the industry should be talking about his or her story to anyone who will listen. Yes, when you’re an established film or television writer who takes meetings with producers and executives all the time, copyrighting your ideas should be a consideration. But that fact is, an idea alone is not what sells in Hollywood. What sells is the entire package—how an idea is executed. And it’s crucial to practice telling your story because you’ll need to be phenomenal at painting the picture for your producer-audience when you do land a meeting. Check out producer Elizabeth Kushman’s (ONE MISSED CALL, THE HILLS HAVE EYES) opinion on the topic here: http://voyagemedia.com/exclusive-producer-interview/ “I have to send out a lot of query letters to improve my chances of getting my idea picked up.” Sending out hundreds of query letters to unqualified leads is like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks – it’s a waste of time and often yields little to no...

The Skimmable Screenplay

Writers create screenplays to be viewed.  At least theoretically, no movie script was ever written for the purpose of being ‘read’ by an audience. Actors, producers and directors, of course, read scripts all the time, and they are a key audience for young, up-and-coming screenwriters, but these professionals are also viewers too, right? They, like general audiences, want to see, view or watch a script, not be forced to read it. We all want it visualized for us, largely, because it’s just easier. There’s less work involved. It takes time, concentration and energy to read a screenplay, but anyone can collapse on a sofa, turn on a movie and watch it… just kind of skim through it. So doesn’t it make sense that a script should share that essence and be designed for skimming, and not reading? I think so. Especially since we’re talking about an industry that’s famous for not always reading material cover-to-cover. When any written document makes for a skimmable read, it rolls off the page. It’s digestible. You see it in your mind and understand it immediately. Ironically, it’s kind of like watching a movie. Yet a large majority of scripts, even those by working professionals, are constructed in a way that hinders the visual flow of the story, and I’m not just talking about using more active, visually potent language. Although it’s rarely written about in the best screenwriting books, avoidable words, grammar and even punctuation often obstruct both clarity and dramatic impact, yet screenwriters go back to them time and again because that’s the tradition. Why? Why create a screenplay using the tools...

Agents vs. Managers vs. Producers

  Your guide to choosing the right people to be on your team If I had a dollar for every time an author asked me, “What’s the difference between Agents vs. Managers vs. Producers?” I would have a ton of dollars! Seriously, I could go on a tropical vacation 🙂 But instead of going on vacation, I’ve decided to break it all down for you right here… So I’ll start off by saying that each of these types of dealmakers exist in their own way to make arrangements that kickstart the process of creating movies, TV shows or webseries from conception to completion. But that’s pretty much where their similarities stop… Agents   I like to think of the Agents as the gatekeepers to Hollywood… They control what projects high-end talent take on… They also do all they can to protect / improve their clients’ value by making it tough for a newcomer to break in. Typically, agents work for actors, directors or writers and are highly transaction focused. As a rule, Agents only seek out known talent with pre-existing track records. They are interested in sales and final-products which means that they very rarely take risks on ideas that ‘aren’t a sure thing.’ And while this mindset is necessary to keep Hollywood running smoothly, it can be frustrating to newcomers like self-published authors who don’t have a preexisting reputation. Managers Managers are ‘in it for the long haul’ in terms of their clients’ careers. They are generally more focused on the long-term overall career development of their clients (whereas agents are more short-term-transaction focused). The good news for you is that...

5 Ways Tony the Tiger Will Help You Write a Winning Logline

  What does gorging on sugary cereal have to do with loglines? The last time I strolled down the cereal aisle, bold lettering, bright blue coloring, and Tony the Tiger himself jumped off the Frosted Flakes box and grabbed my attention. Why would I choose the Safeway brand lamely boasting “Sugar-Coated Corn Flakes” when I could have a cereal that tasted gr-r-reat? Cereal boxes and loglines are both pitches, advertising themselves to win over the hungry shopper or potential script buyer. The purpose of a logline is to succinctly and clearly convey what your script is about to a producer, studio, executive, etc. who is looking to buy scripts to make into movies. A badly written logline (no matter the quality of the script) can turn away buyers. There are lots of tips for writing a good logline, but these are the ones I found most applicable as I noted which loglines sparked my interest…and which ones stayed on the shelf at Voyage. These tips, along with our logline template found below, can help any writer assemble an appealing logline. Attention To Detail  If you saw a box of Cocoa Puffs where ‘Puffs’ was missing a letter, would you still buy it? Maybe. But you might be less confident about the integrity of the product, whereas a grammatically sound competitor will instill trust in the buyer. It takes as little as a misplaced comma to take the reader out of the pitch and away from the story. Find the “Shiny Object” Every kid’s cereal brand has that shiny object, whether it’s Tony the Tiger or “Trix are for kids!” A...

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